Wednesday, April 8, 2009

ok – I managed to rescue my Premiere file – I had to load it in with all the clips Offline and then re-link them one at a time from within the programme… not sure what happened there.

Anyway, this week saw the re-appearance of 10x10 ( – a great resource for (London based) documentary makers. It’s a meeting in which filmmakers can screen 10 minutes of their work in progress and get 10 minutes of feedback from an audience of (mostly) other filmmakers. It’s very useful if you can go along with very specific questions you need answering (rather than just because you want to show off your work).

This month, I got a slot for my trilobite movie – so I spent a day or so cutting together a 10 minute sampler. This was a great help in itself actually – just the process of creating something “finished” rather than just slogging through hours of footage picking out the odd usable clip without knowing quite how it will be used is a great tonic.

I got the edit finished at about 5pm on Tuesday and hit render – expecting it to take about 10 minutes on my quad core 8gb machine. In fact, it took close to 80 minutes to write the DVD and I had to get taxi through London in rush hour just to get to the venue minutes before the deadline.

The showing was very helpful – lots of constructive criticism – the characters need to be explored more deeply (probably a symptom of me trying to cram everything into 10 minutes – but it’s a bit of a worry that I haven’t really got all of them opening up about the roots of the passion for prehistoric bugs….) - and I need to watch the balance between emotional and scientific content closely.

There was also a consensus that there’s too much narration in the version I presented and I need to let the characters speak for themselves. However, people did set my mind at ease about the actual quality of my voiceover work.

Basically, I’ve been quite nervous about my ability to do a competent job as a narrator and so when I’m editing my own voice, I’ve always got a bad feeling about what I’m doing – this probably stems from about 10 years ago when I did a short radio package for radio 4.

The producer of the programme liked the interviews I’d done and the editing, but thought my voiceover work was awful – eventually I had to bring in a friend (Mary – a journalist with a great broadcast voice) to voice the piece for me.

Since then, I haven’t really been comfortable appearing at the pointed end of a microphone.

So, that’s given me a bit more confidence – apart from anything else because my next project (if I ever commit myself to doing such an ambitious project) is going to have to have me at the centre of it….

In the meantime, I’m now re-energised about the trilobite documentary and I can almost see it taking shape. I’ve realised that editing all day every day isn’t the way to go once you get to fine-editing. After about 3-4 hours of this kind of work, I tend to start slowing down – it’s so tiring. Doing regular half days rather than irregular whole days will get the job done faster.

In other news, my last documentary, “how to colonise the stars” is now in the hands of the distributors, Electric Sky
And they’re on their way to MipTV the TV market. Hopefully lots of TV channels will want to buy it!

We’ll see…

In the meantime, they’re still trying to track down the guys who stole my last documentary (Shark Story) and released it without permission as a DVD in WHSmiths. It turns out, the company got hold of a screener for the programme, duplicated it and put it out without permission.

They then promptly went into receivership, so the chances of me getting to know exactly how this happened and who’s responsible seems pretty low.

Still, I’ll get some money for it once the receivers cough up… As much as anything else, I’m looking forward to knowing what the sales were like!

Another plus is the story of my website’s popularity (with search engines at least).

Having removed my advertising on Google (because it was costing so much) I put a lot of effort into SEO (search engine optimisation) and had my site re-written with search engine keywords in mind.

This made my site appear on google, but, to be honest, not very highly.

However, I also wrote some articles about commissioning animation for film, documentaries, museums, etc. and put them up on the site, and employed a company from elance to go out and get other sites to link to the articles…. A process known as backlinking.

Now, the thing about backlinks are that they’re one way google uses to work out whether your site is useful and popular, so the idea is that the more other (relevant) sites that link to yours, the higher you’ll appear in searches.

Only a few of the 150 backlinks I’ve now got are showing up, but already the content from my site is figuring highly in searches (try looking for “cgi for documentary films” or something similar).

Is this permanent? Will it drive more traffic to my site? Will it be the right traffic and generate enquiries and work?.... only time will tell…

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